Pubdate: Sat, 13 Jun 2015
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Page: A14


Despite dire predictions to the contrary, Prime Minister Stephen
Harper has led Canada in a mostly centrist direction during the nine
years he has stood at its helm.

In many ways this has served the country well and brought it together
during some difficult times. But every so often, the Conservative
government disappoints even those who are inclined to view it
favourably by digging in its heels and holding a rigidly doctrinaire
position on the smallest of issues. This happened twice in the past
week. First, the government said it would be introducing legislation
to ban veils that cover the face, such as the niqab, during
citizenship ceremonies. This is in direct defiance of a Federal Court
ruling against a government policy that had required the covering be
removed as the oath was taken.

Although the issue of whether one should cover one's face at the very
moment of being accepted into the Canadian family is certainly
controversial, the government's stance against the court ruling is

Besides being disrespectful to the court ruling, this legislation
would needlessly encroach on individual liberties and offend many
Muslim Canadians. It cannot be justified either on the grounds of
security or ascertaining the identity of a new citizen.

Second came the news that the federal government is "outraged" at the
unanimous ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada that medical marijuana
can be legally consumed in products such as cookies, brownies and teas.

Until now, cannabis that is prescribed by physicians could only be
used in dried form - a rule that made it difficult for some patients
to take their medicine. One mother, Cheryl Rose, said her 22-year-old
epileptic daughter will now be able to take one oil=based capsule
instead of 15 capsules of dried cannabis.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose said she was outraged by the decision,
its "normalization" of the drug, and its message that judges, rather
than doctors, can decide what is a medicine.

The arguments seem specious, though. Cannabis has already been
approved as a medicine. What difference does it make if it's in the
form of a cigarette, a capsule, or a cookie?

In its nearly nine years in office, the Conservative government has
achieved much to be proud of. A case can be made that the economy has
been well managed during a difficult recession and slow recovery.
Important trade treaties were negotiated with Europe and signed with
South Korea. The federal deficit has been eliminated. Canada has taken
a firm stand against aggressive foreign governments and terrorism.

The Harper government has made laudable attempts - though these have
sometimes been frustrated - to improve the lives of aboriginal
Canadians and to reform the scandal-ridden Senate.

The petty squabbling of this last week is unworthy of this government.
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